Super Series: Stirling Wolves close in on final with big win over Boroughmuir Bears

Victory at Southern Knights on Friday will be enough to take Eddie Pollock's team into the Sprint final

Wolves at Bears
Stirling Wolves got the better of Boroughmuir Bears in a high-scoring encounter at Meggetland. Image: Bryan Robertson.

Boroughmuir Bears 38
Stirling Wolves 64

 

LEWIS STUART @ Meggetland

STIRLING WOLVES are desperate to add the Sprint Series title to the Super Series Championship they won at the tail end of last year and put themselves within touching distance of the final with a thoroughly entertaining demolition job at Meggetland.

As coach Eddie Pollock pointed out afterwards, any win next week against the Southern Knights at Melrose puts them in the final, with the venue and opponents both depending on other results.

It may have been a 100-point game, with his side winning by 10 tries to six, but the reality was that the contest was over long before the Bears came into the game, and there was never really a shadow of doubt about the end result.


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“Happy to score 60 points, but a bit disappointed to see so many [conceded],” Pollock reflected. “From the half-hour mark on, we played 20 minutes with 14 men, so we have to look at discipline too. But I think some of our early stuff was really powerful and accurate, especially away from home.

“We need to work on keeping that intensity even when we are far ahead, but the good thing is we got a lot of people who haven’t had much game time out on the pitch, and they delivered. That is really important; we made changes, and it still went well. Win next week, and we’re in the final — that’s all we can ask for at the moment.”

As Pollock pointed out, the team has come from finishing bottom to be the Super Series champions, and that success only makes them hungrier for silverware after experiencing both the lows and highs of the game.

They were certainly a class ahead of Boroughmuir, who looked dangerous with the ball but coughed up three tries from interceptions and another three from line-out mauls — the kind of leaks no team can afford.

Graham Shiel, the Bears’ head coach, admitted part of the problem is that they are too easy to bully at the breakdown and put themselves under pressure.

“I’m incredibly disappointed in our performance,” he said. “The first half was just a lack of effort and accuracy — both things we spoke about during the week. Ultimately, we need a response from the players to stop making individual and basic errors, because that lets teams like Stirling into the game.

“When we had the ball, as you say, we did some good stuff, but we gave possession away too easily. It’s frustrating from a coaching point of view, but it’s a great lesson for players. We are getting penalized for errors and poor accuracy, and that is the only way they will learn.

“We have to learn, and we need more games like this in environments where these young guys will get some harsh lessons and develop.”

Stirling had always been favorites for this game and wasted no time in underlining exactly why. Getting the ball from the kick-off, they simply went through the phases with all the big forwards making ground as they powered their way upfield.

Eventually, the ball came out to No.8 Ed Hasdell with the defence scattered, and he had the strength to cross for the opening try with little more than two minutes on the clock. With Marcus Holden’s conversion, they had exactly the start they had been hoping for.

Good was soon better as an offside penalty gave Stirling the chance to kick for the corner and set up a line-out maul. It was pretty routine stuff from there as they rumbled over the line with flanker Shaun MacDonald at the back to ground the ball.

There was still plenty of fight in Boroughmuir; their problem was getting hold of the ball and keeping it. When they did, they looked dangerous with full-back Euan Muirhead making ground on a couple of runs.

That said, the hosts’ was all down to the forwards with a couple of big carries from lock Jack Fisher, playing his 50th game for the club, setting them up on the visitors’ line before prop Martin McGinley, presented with the ball a couple of yards out, had the brute strength to carry the remaining defenders over the line with him.

Not that it stopped the flow of tries the other way for long, with the next one a candidate for the highlights reel as locks Archie Clarke and James Pow punched holes in midfield before feeding hooker Joseph Roberts who seemed set to race in from 40 metres out before being caught inches short by Matthew Reid, the home wing. His effort only postponed the inevitable as the forwards powered on and scrum-half Kyle McGhie spun out of the final tackle to touch down.

The bonus point was more run-of-the-mill with another penalty to the corner and another line-out maul. This time it was held, but Hasdell broke off the side to cross, and Stirling were cruising.

It took a yellow card for a late and high challenge from Marius Tamosaitis, the Wolves prop, to balance things out as Boroughmuir got the chance to show what they could do with the ball. All their backs looked dangerous, and when Scott Robeson cut an angle on a short ball from his fly-half Andrew McLean, he had the strength to ride the first tackle and the pace to round the rest of the defence.

In fact, the Bears were coming into the game more and more and looked more than capable of running it all the way from their own line until Ross McKnight, the Stirling wing, intercepted and ran it back with support from fellow wing Mike Heron to put McGhie in for the fifth score.

 

 

Boroughmuir were up for it and finished the half with their third try as Fisher powered through and offloaded to hooker Arthur Allen who almost made the line before Ruaridh Swann, the scrum-half, finished the job.

It turned out to be a blip as the second half opened with two quick-fire tries from the Wolves, the first coming from another line-out and maul with replacement hooker Bryce Robertson in possession as they rumbled over the line, the second a simple interception from McKnight as desperation forced Boroughmuir to try running out of their own 22.

The Bears were still dangerous with the ball, however, and claimed their scoring bonus point when Reid finished a superb move started by Swann who broke clear before finding his wing inside for the scoring pass.

Stirling replied as Hasdell completed his hat-trick with an interception try in a period of tit-for-tat scoring with Ross Cadzow, the Bears’ replacement scrum-half, then finishing a flowing, length-of-the-field try to bring his side’s sixth touchdown of the game.

There was still time for Stirling to add another with McKnight finishing on the outside, the 16th try of the match, but the game had been over as a contest long before that.

 

Teams –

Boroughmuir Bears: E Muirhead; M Reid, J Ventisei, S Robeson (capt, A Thom, 53), R Stewart (G Paul, 54); A McLean, R Swan (R Cadzow, 61); C Anderson (C Smith, 47), A Allen (Z Griffiths, 70), M McGinley (Z Toerien, 57), M Laboda (C Bain, 46), J Fisher, M Lowe, L Calder (L Habib, 17), D Davison.

Stirling Wolves: G Bryce (C Ferrie, 67); M Heron, R Southern, M Holden (capt, C Jackson, 41), R McKnight; E Cunningham, K McGhie (E Davey, 50); B Cullen (L Quarm, 20), J Roberts (B Robertson, 29), M Tamosaitis (A Rogers, 60), J Pow (J Oguntibeju, 50), A Clarke, R Knott , S Macdonald (F Read, 62), E Hasdell.

Referee: Rob McDowell

 

Scorers –

Boroughmuir Bears: Tries: McGinley, Robeson, Swann, Reid (2), Cadzow. Cons: McLean, Paul (3).

Stirling Wolves: Tries: Hasdell (3), MacDonald, McGhie (2), Robertson (2), McKnight (2). Cons: Holden (5), Cunningham (2).

Scoring sequence (Boroughmuir Bears first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 5-14; 5-19; 5-21; 5-26; 5-28; 10-28; 12-28; 12-33; 12-35; 17-35 (h-t) 17-40; 17-45; 17-47; 17-52; 22-52; 24-52; 24-57; 29-57;  31-57; 36-57; 38-57; 38-62; 38-64.

 

Yellow cards –

Stirling Wolves: Tamosaitis (28 mins), Read (64 mins)

 

Player-of-the-Match: With 10 different try-scorers and plenty of big performances from players who didn’t get on the scoresheet, there was no shortage of candidates but in the end, Ed Hasdell, the Stirling No8, gets the prize to add to his hat-trick of tries after a powerful all-round showing.

Talking Point: Both sides kept the ball alive and though there were a few too many mistakes for both coaching teams, there was no shortage of entertainment. In the end, though, not many teams can live with Stirling’s physicality.


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About Lewis Stuart 77 Articles
Lewis has been writing about rugby for almost 40 years, the last 18 as a freelance based in Scotland bringing his wealth fo experience to just about every publication in the country. These days you can hear him as well by tuning in to his Wednesday night show on Rocksport Radio.

1 Comment

  1. Made the trip to Meggetland again this week. Another enjoyable game to watch under the beating sun. Wolves scored some soft tries out wide which was the difference. Felt the Bears scrum performed better this week, good to see the prem winner Anderson get a run out, saw some Currie games over the last couple of seasons and he is a good egg and I enjoyed his article, great story. The winger Matt Reid had a good game in attack and Robson in the middle as well. The Stirling 8, Hasdell was a class above the rest carrying and making metres every time. Wolves look good to have a real chance to win this. Great buzz at Boroughmuir again, a real shame they will not be playing a part of the new Premiership next season.

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